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Watertown Catches Case of Tech Fever!

Tech in Hub real estate giveth. And it taketh away.

A development team that includes Fenway makeover kingpin Boylston Properties wants to transform the Arsenal Mall area from what one team member called a "black hole" into a "cool place to live and play," replete with offices targeted toward tech firms, retail boutiques, hip restaurants and loft-style apartments. Per Robert Weisman and Diedre Fernandes in The Globe, Boylston, along with electronic-medical-records giant athenahealth, are purchasing the 225,000-square-foot Arsenal Mall and two nearby parcels; and plan to spell out their intentions in the next six to 12 months (during which time, too, they'll pursue the necessary O.K.'s from the town).

The gamble just might work. Firstly, Watertown has lower office rents than other tech hubs in the, um, Hub, especially when compared to nearby neighbor Kendall Square. Secondly, there's quite a lot of affluent households near the Arsenal Mall area to support the retail and restaurant portions. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the developers seem to get some crucial realities of contemporary urban-infill development. Said athenahealth head Jonathan Bush (fun fact: he's a cousin of George W. Bush!): "You have to have a place to live, work, and play... Nobody in this generation wants to schlep for an hour and a half on the Mass. Pike to a little patch of land. This is a generation of people who are just coming out of their dorm rooms. That's who we're hiring. These are people who want to work and live near a restaurant that grows its own food, a bar that makes its own beer." Hell's yeah, pops.
· Arsenal Mall May Become a Tech Sector Haven [Globe]
· Hub's Tech Sector Needs Bodies—Good News for Real Estate [Curbed Boston]
· As Red Sox Open, Surrounding Fenway Takes a Bow [Curbed Boston]
· About Those Micro-Apartments—Boston Now No. 3 in Tech [Curbed Boston]